STEEL GUITARIST WELDON MYRICK TO BE HONORED AS NASHVILLE CAT AT THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 24, 2009 – Innovative steel guitarist Weldon Myrick will be honored at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum on Saturday, August 15, as part of the popular quarterly series Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians. The 1:30 p.m. program in the Museum’s Ford Theater is included with Museum admission and free to Museum members.
The program, hosted by Bill Lloyd, will include a brief performance and an in-depth, one-on-one interview highlighted by vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive. Immediately following the program, Myrick will sign autographs in the Museum Store.
Weldon Myrick’s inventive steel guitar playing graced both top country recordings and the stage of the Grand Ole Opry for over thirty years. His work can be heard on classic country hits including Connie Smith’s “Once a Day,” Bill Anderson’s “Bright Lights and Country Music,” Johnny Bush’s “Whiskey River,” Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee” and Reba McEntire’s “Little Rock,” to name a few. Myrick has contributed to sessions by recording artists Merle Haggard, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Mickey Newbury, Charley Pride, Elvis Presley, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood and more.
Born April 10, 1939, in the small town of Jayton, Texas, Weldon Myrick became fascinated with the steel guitar at age eight when his older brother, Tex, left the instrument behind to enter the Air Force. Myrick spent hours hunched over the instrument, sliding his father’s pocket knife on the strings in place of a missing bar. Despite the fact that he couldn’t find anyone in town to tune the instrument, he was soon able to play triumphantly an off-key version of “Steel Guitar Rag.”
At age thirteen, Myrick acquired his own Rickenbacker steel guitar and began playing on the radio in Stanford, Texas, in the group Henley Diggs and the Double Mountain Boys. While still a teenager, he backed Ferlin Husky, Minnie Pearl and Jim Reeves on traveling Opry shows visiting Lubbock.
After high school, in 1956, Myrick moved to Big Spring, Texas, where he began writing and recording with songwriter and producer Ben Hall. Myrick gained valuable experience recording with local acts, picking alongside up-and-coming musician Waylon Jennings. To supplement his $7.50-an-hour recording fee, Myrick joined the local police force and served as an officer for over three years.
Myrick moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1963, and began working with comedian Lonnie “Pap” Wilson on the road and backing country artists on package shows. While back in town, Myrick chased his dream of performing on the Grand Ole Opry by hanging out backstage and waiting for a spot to open each Saturday night. He forged a relationship with Bill Anderson and was soon appearing on the Opry as an official member of Anderson’s Po’ Boys band.
Myrick’s first session hit came in 1964 with Connie Smith’s “Once a Day” (written by Anderson). Producer Bob Ferguson’s decision to showcase Myrick’s soulful steel alongside Smith’s booming voice not only kick-started the young singer’s career, but also helped Myrick become a full-time studio musician. Myrick soon adopted a commercially accessible style that used the guitar pedals to raise and lower the pitch of the strings in counterpoint harmony while picking fast, staccato, double-stop and triple-stop passages. He remained a top Nashville studio musician for over three decades, backing everyone from country legends Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson, the Statler Brothers and Tanya Tucker to artists outside the genre including Delbert McClinton, the Pointer Sisters, Paul Siebel and Cat Stevens.
After joining fellow steel guitarist Hal Rugg on the Grand Ole Opry in 1966, Myrick served thirty-two years as a member of the staff band. He also released several solo instrumental albums and contributed to albums by Area Code 615, a talented and energetic band made up of Nashville’s A-list studio musicians. Myrick was elected to the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1997. He continues to record and perform today.
These programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.